Legally and medically dead pregnant woman, Marlise Munoz, is being kept alive against her obvious state of deadness and her family’s wishes in order to incubate a fetus that is so deformed that ultrasound can’t even determine whether it’s a girl or boy. Erick Munoz and is son have lost their wife and mother and all the family wants to do is give her a proper burial; to say goodbye but the hospital will not allow them to do so.
Tragically on November 26, 2013, a trained paramedic, Erick Munoz, came home and found his 14-week pregnant wife, Marlise Munoz, unconscious on the floor. She is brain dead from a suspected embolism. She has been like this since that day when her husband found her. The John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas where she is being held is keeping her on life support despite the protests of her husband and family. She is essentially being used to incubate a fetus that is ‘distinctly abnormal’ after being deprived of oxygen for an unknown period of time before she was found.
Mr. Munoz and the hospital are locked in a court battle about whether to retain life support. Marlise, also a trained paramedic, was very specific with her husband that she did not want extreme measures to keep her alive in a case where she was brain dead. There is no quality of life left. The hospital has decided that Mrs. Munoz should be kept “alive” to give the baby a chance at life completely ignoring the wishes of her, her husband and common sense. The baby is essentially being incubated in a brain dead and deteriorating dead body. The result is that the fetus is not gestating normally.
“Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined. The fetus suffers from hydrocephalus. It also appears that there are further abnormalities, including a possible heart problem that cannot be specifically determined due to the immobile nature of Mrs. Munoz’s deceased body. She is legally and medically dead.” However, officials at John Peter Smith Hospital refuse to publicly pronounce Marlise Munoz dead.
This is anguishing for Mr. Munoz, Marlise’s family and their son to go through, not to mention, it’s incredibly unfair to the baby they are keeping alive that is so severely messed up. No one wins in this situation; everybody loses. Last week, Munoz’s husband asked a court to force the hospital to take her off the respirator, ventilator and other machines, saying her wishes shouldn’t be disregarded just because she is pregnant. His goal is to have the hospital disconnect the machines so that her family can take her body and give her a proper burial.
The case has raised questions about end-of-life care and whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a fetus. This is no surprise to me, what they are doing to this woman. The world looks at women as things, possessions, they dehumanize us in their minds so that they can treat us as badly as they do. Women all over the world have their reproductive rights restricted and determined by men; the half of the population who have not actually ever experienced what it feels like to be a woman, to be pregnant and give birth.
If this story was about a woman who was found brain dead at 33 weeks and was kept “alive” to gestate a perfectly normal fetus until week 35. I could understand the hospital’s stance but in this case, the fetus was only 14-weeks at the time of the mother’s death. It was not viable. This situation is the stuff horror movies are made of. A husband has lost his wife, a child has lost his mother, a family has lost it’s daughter and now they are keeping her alive like Frankenstein to gestate a child who will probably not survive outside the womb and even if it does, will face severe obstacles in life. Putting the family in the position to lose another member, to relive another loss. The only humane thing to do is to let this woman and her fetus die together; to end their pain. Give the family some closure and let them move through their grief of such a monumental loss.